Mir Hossein Mousavi with Al Jazeera English, 11 June 2009
On my visits to Iran, and afterwards in correspondence with friends and colleagues, I have learned about and been reminded often of the "third generation", those Iranians who came of age after the Islamic Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Quite often, the third generation was characterised as detached from the Revolution, disillusioned, dissatisfied. In recent weeks, however, the third generation --- and more than a few other Iranians --- have been in rallies, on the streets (on Monday, there was the largest outside gathering in more than a decade), and, yes, even on Facebook with excitement and some expectation.
I don't know if this constitutes a "Gradual Revolution", another phrase that I have frequently heard. I certainly would not twist and misrepresent it with the politically-loaded "Velvet Revolution". But, again as an outsider, there has been an opening of debate and thus of political space which could be significant not just for this election but for years to come.
Put simply --- and anticipating Western headlines after Friday about "The Obama Effect" in Iran, about "moderates" v. "hard-liners", about reinforcement or downfall of an Axis running from Iran to Syria to Lebanon's Hezbollah to Palestine's hamas --- these events first and foremost are not about the US. They are not about a clash in the Middle East, in nuclear arsenals, between civilisations.
These events are about Iranians: their concerns, their hopes, their ideals. And, whatever the outcome tomorrow and in the second round, they should be respected as such.